I'm hearing a lot of hype about revenue generation in B2B marketing. Color me strange, but I thought that revenue generation was always the goal, however indirectly. The increasing emphasis on accountability from marketing has put the responsibility to prove contribution to revenue on the table. And it's about time.
Some major changes shining the spotlight include:
- Marketing automation technology - marketers now have access to the technology they need to gain the visibility into buying behavior that can be used to pinpoint areas for improvement and levels of interest.
- Buyers taking control of how they want to buy - if we don't accommodate what buyers want and need, we're giving our competitors who do an advantage. Oh, and they all talk to each other now, too. They're no longer reliant on you as the main source of information about solving their problems.
- Information availability leading to overwhelm and friction - just producing content is no longer enough. Our content has to rise above the noise by providing recognizable value in the places where our prospects spend their time.
- Less salespeople making quota - another indication that we need to get to know our buyers better, but also that their buying experience must be fluid from one end to the other to get to purchase.
- Longer buying cycles - uncertainty and constant change, less people tasked with doing more and lower confidence that solutions to problems will actually work requires more effort on our part.
- More people involved in the decision - and every single one of them has to be convinced of the merit of your solution based on what's important to each of them. A tall order for many companies. Most of these people cannot sign the deal, but they can stall and/or derail it by saying no.
- An increasing number of channels - email is not enough. The monthly newsletter won't cut the revenue mustard. Marketers must become proficient at bloging, article development, community participation, micro-blogging, eBooks, infographics, video, search, and more. But it's not just about delivery, we need to integrate these channels strategically and fill them with great content to drive intent to purchase.
- The economy - nuff said.
The biggest shift putting marketers in the hot seat is the delay in buyers engaging with salespeople. If marketers are now interacting with buyers throughout 2/3 of the buying process, this is a major game changer. It means that rather than focusing on brand awareness and lead generation, marketers need to take on management of that middle zone of the pipeline that can go on for months in a complex sale before buyers invite salespeople into the conversation.
With all of these changes, marketers now have the opportunity to elevate the work they do way above all the fluff of the past and into the realm of business necessity by proving that what they do contributes to company growth.
Revenue generation is not a trend. Never has been. It's just that now marketers can prove the contributions their lead management programs make across the buying process with the tools that help them manage and measure that contribution.